September 26, 2023

U. S. Congressman Thompson (center) speaking at roundtable; (Lt) Barbara Gray, moderator; (Rt.) U. S. Congressman Troy Carter, Dist. 2, LA. PHOTOS BY JAY JOHNSON

By Jackie Hampton,


Attendees listening at the various speakers

U. S. Congressman Bennie Thompson, representing Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama and Arkansas, serves as chair for the Southern Region of the 2023 Farm Bill Task Force on Agriculture and Nutrition. He was in Jackson with his task force July 7, to host a regional roundtable at the Masonic Temple from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. where stakeholders and constituents from throughout the region attended. 

Thompson and his task force were all ears as they listened to several attendees convey what they wanted included in the 2023 Farm Bill. Individuals wanting to speak were able to sign in as they entered the event requesting an opportunity to speak. Thompson stated that he wants the farm bill to include everybody in the country.

The USDA is the only federal agency that is applicable to all counties and parishes is the country, be it California or Lorman, MS. The roundtable gave everyone that wanted to be heard an opportunity to speak.

The moderator for the event was Barbara Gray from Pickens, MS. Gray serves on the USDA Farm Service Agency, an agency that is responsible for the oversight of farm programs.

Host and hostesses assisting at the event

In introducing to some and presenting to others, Gray described Thompson as outspoken, impartial and a strong supporter of farmers always looking at facts while coming up with solutions to obstacles. 

Thompson in his opening remarks said there are great opportunities that can be placed in the next farm bill. He wanted to know what stakeholders and others thought was working in the current bill, what was not working, and what they would like to see in the next bill. He said he had seen five fam bills since serving in congress and he had voted for all five, though none were perfect. He mentioned that black farmers and female farmers had not been treated fairly and that newly degreed farmers did not have the opportunity to get into agriculture as they should have. 

Louisiana Congressman Troy Carter, 2nd District, also serves on the task force. He stated that food and security and fairness for black farmers are all critically important. He spoke on nutrition regarding school children and problems with milk being served in public schools with lunch.

A diverse audience attended the Task Force on Agriculture & Nutrition in the 21st Century roundtable.

Carter stated that 85% of Asians, 70% of Blacks and 65% of Latinos are lactose intolerant, therefore causing some kids to have stomach aches after lunch because they cannot digest the milk. Carter says it’s an easy fix with different alternatives available for children. He wants to see this issue along with others addressed in the farm bill so that children can be equipped mentally and physically for success while in school.

Five different groups of individual signed up to speak before the task force. Each were given three minutes to address their concerns and suggestions for the bill. Even though many went over the three minutes, everyone that wanted to speak, had an opportunity to be heard.

The roundtable was one of a series that will take place not only in the Southern Region but also in the West Coast Region, Midwest Region, Northeast Region and the Western Pacific Coast, each having their own representative to chair their task force.

See more photos, page 15.

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